Do HR software developers build 'healthy' applications?

Do human resources (HR) software application developers build ‘healthy’ applications? This is the question.

To be clearer – we talk about ‘application health’ all the time in terms of a piece of software’s ability to exist successfully inside the use case, system and environment that it was built to serve.

But that is not what we are talking about here.

HR applications have to exhibit ‘application health’ (as above) in just the same way as any other app. But they also have to be constructed to deal with the nuances of human behaviour and so be inherently engineered to serve the real needs of human beings in the workplace.

SAP SuccessFactors

German softwarehaus SAP staged its SuccessConnect 2017 conference and exhibition in London this week to examine how its HR software division is expanding its product line and tuning its work in this space.

As noted here, SAP SuccessFactors suggests that the architectural structure of HR software has to be able to work to the unpredictable nuances of the ‘human mental model’ and so much be inherently online, mobile (so accessible anywhere) and flexible. If we can make HR software ‘touchy-feely’ in this way, then it may be more likely accepted and successfully used for future business success.

So there is a need not just for healthy applications, but for apps that are capable of bending to serve the needs of workers in the workplace.

Boycott factor

If developers fail to get HR applications right, then the suggestion here is that:

  • a) they may have developed an amazing HR application with superb functionality, performance, robustness and overall operational excellence but…
  • b) users end up baulking at the way the app operates (and indeed the workplace functions that it compels them to perform) and so they logically start to boycott the application itself which renders the business function it seeks to deliver useless.

Speaking at SAP SuccessConnect 2017 this year was Julian Simée in his role as senior manager for corporate HR strategy & project lead for ‘Digitalization HR’ at Lufthansa Group.

“We have to think about what transformative processes mean for actual employees [when we implement SAP SuccessFactors], otherwise, they will end up boycotting the transformative change that we are trying to apply on an end-to-end basis across the company,” said Simée.

SAP has also pointed to recent research which may suggest shows that healthy, thriving employees are key to creating sustainable, profitable organisations.

  • An internal study at SAP showed that a 1 point increase in our internal well-being survey score impacts our business by $75-85 MM in operating costs.
  • Organisations with cultures and programs supporting employee health and well-being are perceived as more desirable by job candidates.
  • Increases in employee well-being have been associated with 35% lower turnover rate. This translates into savings of approximately $19.5 million for a typical 10,000 person company.

Health & wellbeing

SAP says that its SAP SuccessFactors HCM Suite supports organisational health and wellbeing goals — and that establishing sustainable cultures to support health and wellbeing should be a part of all application design.

Speakers at SuccessConnect did acknowledge press questions relating to ‘rejection and push-back’ from employees who do not want to be forced to adopt healthier lifestyles. The responsibility it appears sits with management to ‘push down’ these actions – great news for workers, not such great news for the self-employed.

The truth here appears to suggest that health and wellbeing are a complex subject and perhaps not always an initial consideration for software applications developers throughout the app design and build process.